BP pirates eye oil booty

17 April 2008 - 12:23pm
Press release

Campaigners dressed as pirates are staging a demonstration today against moves by UK-based multinational corporation BP to control the development, production and depletion of Iraq's oil reserves.

The demonstration, outside the company's annual meeting, comes as BP negotiates the final details of a contract to develop Rumaila, Iraq's largest producing oilfield.

Protestors from the Hands Off Iraqi Oil coalition warn that the country would lose billions of pounds in oil income under a proposed new law which the UK and US governments are pressing the Baghdad administration to sign.

Activist shareholders aim to question chief executive Tony Hayward at his first AGM on BP?s plans in the face of opposition from two in three Iraqis, according to a poll released earlier by US and UK non-governmental organisations.

The HOIO alliance claims that since 2003 the British oil companies BP and Shell have been lobbying for control of Iraqi oil. It says both BP and Shell have been steering Iraqi oil legislation for almost two years. And campaigners add that the firms worked on and had access to Iraq's Hydrocarbon Law for eight months before it was released to Iraqi MPs.

Jonathan Stevenson, from Iraq Occupation Focus, said: "With over 150,000 British and American troops still in Iraq, no wonder that western oil firms are preparing to move in on the country's oil, despite Iraqis' opposition. Iraq cannot make a democratic decision about its oil?s future while the country remains occupied. We call on BP to publicly state it will not seek long-term rights to the oil while foreign troops are still in Iraq."

Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "Iraq needs control over its resources to improve living standards for millions of people hit by war and occupation. But, to most Iraqis the name BP will mean brazen pirates unless the company stops trying to plunder their country's oil."

 


 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

  • Pictures from the demo can be found here
  • The demonstration is taking place until 11.00 am outside BP?s annual meeting at ExCel London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL
  • Photographs from the demonstration can be obtained after 12 noon today from David Kirkwood (07810 850392).
  • Hands Off Iraqi Oil is a UK coalition opposing any foreign exploitation of Iraq?s oil reserves that cheats the Iraqi people. Members include Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, PLATFORM, Voices UK and War on Want. More information on the campaign is available at www.handsoffiraqioil.org
  • A poll commissioned in August 2007 found that two in three Iraqis opposed their resources being developed by private companies and only 4% felt they had been totally adequately informed about the content of the proposed oil law. www.handsoffiraqioil.org/2007/08/iraqis-oppose-oil-development-plans.html. Top Iraqi oil experts also called for the signing of long-term deals to be delayed until Iraq had full sovereignty. www.handsoffiraqioil.org/2007/07/letter-from-iraqi-oil-experts-to.html
  • Freedom of Information revelations showed Foreign Office promotion of Shell and BP interests in Iraq. www.carbonweb.org/showitem.asp?article=257&parent=39%20

 

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