BP to Continue Oil Sands Project despite Protests
Byline: Iain Laing
OIL giant BP has signalled it will press on with a controversial Canadian tar sands project despite facing a showdown with environmental campaigners and shareholders.
The blue chip company told investors at its annual meeting in London's Docklands that the oil sands work was crucial in helping meet the world's energy needs over the next 20 years.
It insisted it would make a final decision on whether to finance the joint venture with Canadian counterpart Husky Energy by the end of the year.
BP secured a vote against a special resolution put forward by more than 140 shareholders and backed by celebrities including comedian Alistair McGowan and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, which had demanded that BP reviewed its assumptions on the viability of the oil sands plans. Nearly 6% of shareholder votes were in support of the vote, while 9.2% abstained.
But BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the vote was "not about winning or losing" and sought to assure that the firm would take into account requests for greater transparency. Several large investors including Co-operative Asset Management took BP to task over the projected profits and environmental impact of the oil sands work.
And there were representatives from affected indigenous Canadian communities at the meeting, who made a plea for a moratorium on further projects on the oil sand fields until further research is conducted into health risks to the local community. One local resident from Canada said he had seen 30% more levels of cancer in his community, many of them rare types.
BP also faced the wrath of investors over pay plans for senior executives at the meeting, with nearly 16% of shareholder votes withheld or cast against its remuneration report. …