Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

BP Amoco Shareholders Reject North Slope Drilling Resolution

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

BP Amoco Shareholders Reject North Slope Drilling Resolution

Article excerpt

LONDON -- BP Amoco PLC weathered a surprisingly strong challenge to its environmental record Thursday when shareholders defeated a measure that would have blocked the company from drilling for oil in a pristine tract of northern Alaska.

The vote came hours before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved BP Amoco's $27.6 billion purchase of Atlantic Richfield Co.

As part of the antitrust approval for the deal, BP Amoco is selling Arco's oil holdings in Alaska, but that would not alter BP Amoco's exploration plans. Phillips Petroleum of Bartlesville is purchasing the oil holdings.

A coalition of activists and investors proposed the anti- drilling resolution at BP Amoco's annual shareholders' meeting, warning of the possible danger from oil exploration in the biologically sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The group also demanded that the money BP Amoco is spending on a controversial offshore Arctic oil project, Northstar, be invested instead in the development of solar power.

Shareholders rejected the resolution by a margin of about 8-to- 1, according to an initial count of proxy votes.

But the support of more than 13 percent of the proxy voters and the extraordinary effort to galvanize investor backing for a radical change in BP Amoco's plans indicated an unusual depth of opposition to the company's current direction.

"They badly misjudged the mood of the shareholders on this, as evidenced by the size of the vote in favor," said Stuart Bell of PIRC Ltd., which advises institutional investors on issues of social responsibility.

The resolution was the first measure on environmental policy ever proposed at a BP Amoco shareholder's meeting.

Executives of London-based BP Amoco defended their record on the environment, noting that BP Amoco's solar energy business is the largest in the world and arguing that its operations have done no harm to Alaska's wildlife.

"No polar bears have died as a result of Northstar's construction," BP Amoco chairman Peter Sutherland insisted.

The company played down the outcome of the vote. A spokesman, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, said the support for the resolution was overstated due to a number of abstentions and because some ballots have yet to be counted. …

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