BP shareholders file resolution calling on BP to divest from PetroChina

Wednesday, 31 January 2001

(LONDON) Free Tibet Campaign, representing a coalition of social justice groups, financial firms and individual shareholders, today submitted a resolution to BP's Company Secretary at Britannic House, City of London. The resolution calls for the company to divest from Chinese oil company PetroChina "on the grounds that a shareholding in PetroChina and the potential human rights and environmental concerns associated with PetroChina is in contradiction with BP's policy commitments on human rights and the environment, and is therefore not in the best long-term financial interests of BP." The resolution is signed by more than 100 shareholders backed by well over a US$1 million of shares.

BP currently owns a US$578 million stake in PetroChina, a company that has frequently come under fire for its questionable practices in China and Tibet. PetroChina's parent company, China National Petroleum Corporation, has a 40% share in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which is implicated in human rights abuses in Sudan.

PetroChina recently began construction on a gas pipeline in the Amdo region of Tibet. Human rights groups are concerned that the pipeline will disrupt the traditional lifestyle of Tibetan and Mongolian nomads, will increase militarisation in an already volatile area, will facilitate the transfer of Chinese citizens into Tibetan areas, and will allow the Chinese government to profit from resources that are not rightfully theirs. After a year of dialogue with the company, 54 organisations from 16 countries in December urged BP either to use its influence immediately to halt the pipeline, or divest from PetroChina by 15th January 2001. BP refused.

"In filing this resolution, we hope to do what BP claim they cannot do with PetroChina; that is to use our influence as shareholders to change the company's policies" said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "Through this investment, BP is supporting the Chinese government's policy of economic colonisation, the greatest threat to the Tibetan and Uyghur people. This is inconsistent with BP's commitment to human rights and social responsibility" she added.

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility will today file a second resolution which cites PetroChina, calling on BP to formulate human rights policies for its strategic investments. PetroChina is given as an example of where the company's existing investment practices fall well short of their commitments to human rights and the environment. BP will face two other shareholder resolutions at this year's AGM (scheduled for 19 April 2001) - from Greenpeace, calling for a report which outlines a transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and a fourth submitted by PIRG, which calls for a risk assessment in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. All four resolutions are supported by Trillium Asset Management.

For more information contact: Alison Reynolds 020 7833 9958, Mobile 07711 843884
Lorne Stockman 020 7833 9958, Mobile 07989 599787

Note: A copy of the shareholder resolution is available on request, or can be viewed at www.freetibet.org