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Thursday, April 15, 2010

BP faces down shareholder protest on Canadian oil sands project

BP faces down shareholder protest on oil sands project

Protesters hold up a banner as they demonstrate against the exploration of oil of the Canadian tar sands industry outside the Canadian Embassy in Trafalgar Square
Campaigners have launched an internet campaign
BP looks to have beaten a shareholder rebellion over financial and environmental concerns connected to its project in Canada's oil sand reserves.

by BBC, April 15, 2010

Some 140 large investors were expected to back a resolution at the oil giant's AGM calling for a review of the plans.

But advance votes cast before the meeting showed that 85% had voted against the resolution. Advance votes make up about 59% of total shares.

BP will make a final decision on the venture by the end of the year.
The final result of the shareholder vote, including those who attended Thursday's meeting, will be revealed in the next day or two.

Mitigating action
BP said at the meeting the project was crucial to meeting global energy needs.

Its chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the vote was "not about winning or losing."

The company also says action has been taken to mitigate some of the harmful effects and emissions from the joint venture.

It says the extraction process used in the Sunrise project with Canada's Husky Energy is less damaging than traditional methods and it has been open about its intentions.

Some 84% of advance votes were also in favour of BP's remuneration report, despite the company coming under pressure over its pay policies for top bosses.

Chief executive Tony Hayward received a 41% rise in his remuneration package in 2009 -- meaning he took home about £4m in salary, bonus and share awards.

This was despite the firm seeing last year's profits fall by 45% to $13.96bn (£9.2bn).

Internet campaign
The vast oil sands in north-eastern Alberta have the largest known oil reserves in the world outside of Saudi Arabia, in the form of Bitumen.

Environmental campaigners say the extraction process is an energy intensive business, resulting in high levels of carbon emissions.

They also warn of pollution, deforestation and harm to local communities.

Several major pension funds have been spurred on by 5,000 individuals who backed a campaign co-ordinated by responsible investment charity FairPensions and Co-operative Asset Management.

The shareholders were due to vote on a special resolution, which calls on the oil giant to report on the financial, environmental and social risks associated with the plans.

BBC business correspondent John Moylan says some shareholders fear the environmental risks associated with extracting the oil could hit BP's profits and share price in the future.

Other companies are also facing protests over their plans for the oil sands, with the same resolution set to be put to a vote at Shell's AGM next month.


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