Protesters dragged out of BP AGM after board avoids uncomfortable questions

BP’s Broken Promises, Annual General Meeting 2012 from Zoe Broughton on Vimeo.

Gulf Coast residents cut short by Chair, and environmental questions brushed aside before meeting disrupted by “die-in” protest.

BP’s Annual General Meeting this morning was once again an uncomfortable experience for the Board. They were confronted by questions on oil spills, tar sands, Olympic sponsorship and interplanetary escape pods, before nine people “died” in protest at the company’s contribution to climate change and human rights abuses, and were removed bodily from the room by security guards.

Early in the meeting Bryan Parras, representing devastated communities on the Gulf Coast, began to explain how the financial and health impacts of BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill were still having a huge effect on people and livelihoods, and that BP’s supposed compensation fund was not reaching those who needed it. However, he was interrupted partway through his question by the BP Chair, Carl-Henric Svanberg, and told to hurry up.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Parras said:“Last year, I was barred from this meeting by BP’s security, along with other community representatives. While I was glad to be allowed in this year, I was insulted that the Chair tried to cut me off, and that the Board then completely ignored my question and instead reeled off their prepared PR spin.”

Derrick Evans, from the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, also commented: “It was good to be able to meet with the BP Board member Ian Davis, who is the Chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Committee and so has responsibility for ensuring that BP is keeping its promises to the people of the Gulf Coast. However, we were disappointed to learn that he knew nothing about the problems we are facing on the ground. He has now agreed to visit affected communities and see for himself what’s really happening, and so we look forward to helping him to fulfil that promise.”

As the meeting progressed, BP refused to acknowledge questions about whether tar sands extraction could be classified as “Ecocide”[1] and about the measures they were taking to lobby against the EU’s proposed Fuel Quality Directive [2], which would restrict the import of highly polluting fuels such as tar sands oil. Clayton Thomas-Muller, a tar sands campaigner from the Indigenous Environmental Network, asked a question about a crucial legal challenge that has been launched by the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation in Canada. If successful, this could make tar sands extraction illegal across large swathes of the country, including the leases owned by BP. Once again, the Chair simply ignored the question and made some unrelated comments in reply.

One question that did receive a response was about Olympic sponsorship. Although Iain Conn, the Chief Executive for Refining and Marketing, declined to give an exact figure for the company’s lavish sponsorship deal, he did say that BP had written a business case for Olympic sponsorship “going through exactly the same processes as we would for any investment”. He said that the aim of their role as Oil and Gas Partner, sponsor of the Cultural Olympiad and Sustainability Partner was “brand protection and connection with customers and society”, and to “enhance their relationship with strategic commercial partners”, and that the company’s expectations were being met in these areas. These comments confirm that these kinds of sponsorship deals bring significant returns to the company and are all about the bottom line.

Other questioners pointed out that the business plan laid out in BP’s Annual Report was based on fossil fuels still providing 80% of the world’s energy in 2030 – a scenario that would result in runaway climate change and global disaster on a massive scale. The meeting then took a slightly bizarre turn when a shareholder told the Chair that “if you’re planning for this level of social collapse then presumably BP must be building some kind of interplanetary escape pod in a secret bunker somewhere, for the Board and major shareholders”. To laughter from around the room, he went on to ask where the pod would be sent (“The Moon, Mars or somewhere deep below the Earth’s surface?”), and whether tickets were available for purchase. When the Chair refused to respond, a total of nine UK Tar Sands Network protestors were noisily “killed by climate change”, dying in various locations around the conference hall, and had to be carried or dragged out by security.


BP under pressure at AGM :Reuters video

Shareholders, protestors line up to lambast BP: Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Activists accuse BP of ‘cutting corners’ in Gulf oil spill clean-up: Guardian

BP under fire at turbulent AGM: Guardian

Eventful meeting for BP bosses: Independent

BP protestors sound off: Evening Standard London

BP clean-up operation ‘a fiasco’: Press Association

Financial Times

Huffington Post

[1] Ecocide is a potential new crime against peace which is gathering momentum in the environmental law community. See

[2] The Fuel Quality Directive aims to reduce emissions from transport fuels in Europe by 6% by 2020. See

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5 Responses to “Protesters dragged out of BP AGM after board avoids uncomfortable questions”

  1. Lionel says:


  2. deon says:

    Is Sinopec involved in any of the tar sands development . As far as i know they are buying up various companies and are becoming major shareholders in Tar sands and gas exploration in Canada .

  3. Today at BP’s Annual General Meeting, BP refused to acknowledge questions about whether tar sand extraction could be classified as an “Ecocide”. I work on the campaigns team for Eradicating Ecocide, led by International Environmental Barrister Polly Higgins. As a campaign we are trying to make Ecocide the 5th International Crime Against Peace at The UN Earth Summit in June.

    If we examine barrister Polly Higgins’ legal definition of Ecocide in her proposed amendment to the Rome Statute that was taken to the UN in September 2011:

    “Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.”

    If we use this definition and apply it to the tar sands, located in Alberta, Canada, the tar sands deposits are distributed over an area of 140,000 km² – an area larger than England. Once the Law of Ecocide is passed, places like the Athabasca tar sands would be made illegal and would be forced to halt production. The effect of such mass industrial activity is undeniably destroying ecosystems and local indigenous people.

    If you would like to find out more about our campaign please visit our website:

  4. […] See…. Tags: BP, Canada, tar sands, tarsands, UK Tar Sands Network, USA Previous postJustice for South African Gold Miners: public meeting Next postRio Tinto and the 2012 Olympic Medals […]

  5. Rakesh says:

    Well done folks, and thank-you for doing this!

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