The coalition that cost PetroChina up to $7 billion last year has set its sights on BP this spring, targeting BP’s ongoing investment in PetroChina. BP is the largest foreign shareholder in PetroChina, and is facing an increasing storm of controversy surrounding its $578 million investment. Shareholders have filed a resolution, which, if passed at the BP Annual Meeting in April, would require BP to divest itself of PetroChina holdings.
The press conference is one element of an International Day of Action being coordinated by Tibetan Rights Groups to pressure BP into dropping its investment in PetroChina. Demonstrations are being held at BP offices in at least 20 cities around the world. Despite repeated requests from rights groups and the Tibetan Government-In-Exile, BP has declined to use its influence with PetroChina to help stop new oil and gas projects – in particular the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline – in Chinese occupied Tibet.
“Tibetans are gravely concerned that oil and gas exploitation on the Tibetan plateau will only serve to consolidate the Chinese control and occupation of Tibet” said Bhuchung Tsering, Director of the International Campaign for Tibet. “BP’s words in support of human rights are worth little if they are not willing to back them up with action.”
BP is both the largest foreign shareholder in PetroChina, and the top investor in the Chinese oil industry. In December, 54 organizations from 16 countries urged BP to either use its influence immediately or divest itself of PetroChina stock by January 15th, 2001. BP dismissed that request, and has recently argued that they have no influence with PetroChina.
“Without influence there should be no involvement,” said Steve Kretzmann of the International Campaign for Tibet. “BP’s admission that they have no influence over PetroChina management should serve as a wake-up call to BP shareholders – its time to get out of PetroChina”.
Tibet supporters are not alone in their concern over BP’s investment in PetroChina. The coalition of human rights , environmental, labor, and corporate governance concerns that last year targeted the PetroChina IPO today announced their joint intentions to pressure BP over its PetroChina investment. The coalition includes the International Campaign for Tibet, Friends of the Earth, Trillium Asset Management, the AFL-CIO, the American-Anti-Slavery Group, and the US Business and Industry Council. Underwriters for the PetroChina IPO last year initially expected it to raise as much as $10 billion. In the end, PetroChina raised just under $3 billion.
Note: Demonstration to be held at BP’s offices in Washington DC, 18th and I St. NW, 5 pm, Thursday Feb. 15th. Sponsored by the International Campaign for Tibet, the Uighur Human Rights Coalition, and Students for a Free Tibet. For more information on the Day of Action contact John Hocevar of Students for a Free Tibet at 212-358-0071.