The Oil Industry
BP Bosses Confronted By Protesters Over Gulf of Mexico Disaster & Tar Sands Development in Canada at Annual Meeting
4/14/12- Huffington Post, London - BP's top bosses contended with screaming environmental protesters, a backlash on executive pay and more anger over the company's record in the Gulf of Mexico at an eventful annual meeting on Thursday.
A number of activists were carried from the ExCel centre in London after staging a bizarre demonstration against BP's attitude towards climate change.
BP's board was asked by an undercover protester if it had a "spaceship" to allow its members to escape environmental catastrophe before the man and several colleagues played dead on the floor and refused to move. No arrests were made.
Meanwhile, a shareholder said BP gave the impression the board had its "snout in the trough" by awarding chief executive Bob Dudley an annual bonus of 850,000 US dollars (£540,000). The criticism was backed by a large number of investors as 11% of shareholder votes were against the company's remuneration report.
Before the meeting started, Derrick Evans, from Gulfport, in Mississippi, said BP's clean-up operation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster had been a "complete fiasco". "The oil is not gone," he said outside the meeting. "The general perception is that BP made a mess and BP did a big clean-up and everything is all fine. Nothing could be further from the truth."
BP has so far paid around 22bn US dollars (£13.8bn) in clean-up costs and compensation and has also agreed a settlement expected to cost 7.8bn US dollars (£4.9bn) with lawyers representing 200,000 individuals and businesses claiming compensation following the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Dudley told shareholders that BP's guiding principle on the clean-up was "not to do the minimum as required by law, but to do the right thing".
He added: "We have continued to devote people and resources to the area and we are seeing recovery. The beaches are open and 2011 was a great year for tourism. Independent studies have shown that Gulf seafood is safe to eat." And defending the company's pay packages, chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said BP "works to understand the mood and the society in which we are based".
BP also faced a protest from environmentalists opposed to the development of Canada's tar sands by BP as a major oil source. Clayton Thomas-Muller, who is the tar sands campaign director for the Indigenous Environmental Network in Canada, urged shareholders to call for a withdrawal from the area in Alberta, Canada.
After protesting outside in front of banners reading "BP out of the tar sands" and "BP your party's over", Thomas-Muller addressed the board. He asked what "contingency plans" the company had if it lost a legal challenge against its development.
Dudley said he believed the development of "oil sands" was "good for Canada" and explained that BP used a less-invasive procedure requiring steam to harness the oil from the sands in Alberta.
BP reported annual replacement cost profits of 23.9bn US dollars (£15.1bn) in 2011, compared with a loss of 4.6bn US dollars (£3.1bn) the previous year. BP saw its shares rise sharply last month after a £4.9bn deal with 110,000 businesses and individuals over the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The out-of-court settlement worth 7.9bn US dollars (£5bn) was less than expected - but it still faces a challenge from the US Department of Justice.