BP's Campaign to Exploit Protected Areas

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BP's campaign to exploit protected areas

While BP was been spending big on its "Beyond Petroleum" advertising campaign to position itself as an environmentally responsible company, it also publicly backed moves by the Bush government to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling. BP, also continues to explore for oil in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Atlantic Frontier, the foothills of the Andes and Alaska. [1]

It has also been attempting to woo environmental groups and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature into relaxing guidelines for the World's protected areas and World Heritage Area that sattes that mining and oil developments are incompatible in four of the five classes of protected areas. See BP's campaign to exploit protected areas case study.

In 1996 BP was accused of human rights violations in Colombia. Its Casanare oil field has oil reserves valued at approximately $US 40 billion. The Colombian government has a poor human rights record, and both the police and army are held responsible for serious abuses of human rights including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and beatings. [2]

In January 2003, U.S. law courts ordered BP to allow federal inspectors unrestricted access to its Alaskan operations to verify compliance with environmental, health and safety laws. This was a modification of a five-year probation imposed on BP in 2000 after the company admitted it had illegally dumped hazardous waste from the Endicott Island oil field between 1993 and 1995. [3]

BP and West Papau

In recent years BP has been developing its massive Tangguh gas project at Bintuni Bay in West Papua. BP has been at pains to proclaim its intentions to avoid the mistakes of other major resource projects in West Papua - most notably the Freeport mine - by developing community support for the project.

While spending money on community development projects and extensive consultation programmes is nothing new, BP's most notable difference is its stated intention of keeping the notorious Indonesian military at arms length rather than on the payroll, as occurs at Freeport. [4]

However, as with proclamations of environmental credentials, major greenfields resource projects in Melanesia often struggle to meet raised expectations. [5]

In March 2003, BP was warned by a panel of experts led by the US senator, George Mitchell, that it could trigger human rights abuses if it proceeded with a $US 2 billion gas scheme in Indonesia.Concern centred on the role of the Indonesian military which would be brought in to guard the Tangguh LNG facilities to be built in the Papua region. [6]

BP and Colombia

BP Exploration Company Colombia (BPXC) is the British-based company’s Colombian company. Their operations are based in the province of Casanare, in eastern Colombia, with headquarters in Bogotá. Cusiana and Cupiagua make up most of Colombia’s oil field. BP has two major processing installations built these two locations and a network of flow lines was put into place to connect the wells with the facilities. Crude oil is exported via an 871km pipeline that stretches from Casanare to the Caribbean port of Coveñas.

At BP’s sites, they have drilled over 125 wells in rugged terrain and complex geology to depths of over 15,000 feet. The production from these field peaked in 1999 when they averaged 434,000 barrels of oil a day.

BPXC employs 480 people and 98.5% of them are native Colombians. BPXC is partners with Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state oil firm. [7]

April 2002: BP and the Casanare Project, Colombia
One of the most sensitive issues for BP was its involvement in Colombia, where it was accused of collaborating with brutal local security forces. BP produces 40% of the Colombia’s oil from their plants in Cusiana and Cupiaga.
BP has built voluntary principles into their contracts with private security providers and says that they have trying to ensure that they are properly implemented. BP claims to have encouraged and supported the government’s initiatives to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law by supporting a “house of justice and peace” which is currently under construction in the area. [8]

June 30, 2007 Witnesses from Colombia’s social movements join together for a campaign to spread the word on how human rights and the environment are affected by oil corporations’ thirst for profits. BP operates Colombia’s second most productive oilfields and in 2006 they reaped profits of $347 million dollars. However, BP’s workers cannot organize a trade union and the surrounding environment has been ruined and communities live under the current reign of paramilitary terror. [9])