Our Letter to BP Exploration Colombia Print
Bulletin archive
Tuesday, 01 April 2003 01:00

Note: see previous editions of Colombia Solidarity bulletin for the background to our campaign in support of peasants in Colombia displaced by the ODC and OCENSA oil pipelines. We met three executives of BP Exploration Colombia in Bogotá last December. We have received no official response to the following letter.


January 2003

I am in receipt of the report by Corporacion Excelencia en la Justica and thank you for sending it. I note that both this report and that by Fedesarrollo were commissioned by BP Exploration Colombia.

With regards to the pipelines please find attached our letter to OCENSA.

The evaluation we make of the meetings on 5th and 6th December 2002 is firstly that the BP Group cannot legally or morally separate itself from the issue of just compensation for the Zaragoza and Segovia peasants, for the following reasons:

  • BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited was directly a leading actor in its role as Project Manager for the OCENSA pipeline in the contracts with the peasants and other substantive arrangements to do with environmental management;

  • BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited is both a significant shareholder in and customer of OCENSA and ODC, and BP Group states that its policies apply globally and that it expects ethical conduct from third parties;

  • BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited is treated as a foreign company in Colombia, constituted as a branch of the BP Group based in the UK. There are no separate shareholders and so there is no separate public or shareholder reporting of its activities which are consolidated into the BP Group reports.

Secondly we are extremely concerned with the partiality of the official process in Colombia. Your side appears to have continued privileged access to the environmental and judicial authorities while the peasants are excluded. You cited the Ministry of Environment's report in your letter of July 2002. We complained that the inspection was carried out with OCENSA but without the peasants' lawyers who had originally asked for the inspection being informed. It transpires that you have a draft copy the report, but cannot release it. OCENSA say they have never seen a copy of this report. And neither you nor OCENSA provided a contact at the Minister of Environment whom I could contact about the authorship and status of the report.

The disappearing court hearing, as announced at our meeting. This case was transferred from El Bagre to Bogotá at the request of the OCENSA side to the dispute. Since then access to the process has been effectively blocked to the peasants' lawyers. There is no trace of the jurisdiction on this case, despite strenuous attempts of the peasants' lawyers to track it. At a minimum this is justice delayed, but as a Campaign we are increasingly doubtful of any fairness whatsoever in this procedure.

We remain extremely concerned that BP instigates a fully transparent, immediate and just process of compensation for the peasant victims of the OCENSA and ODC pipelines. In the meantime will continue to campaign publicly in Britain for a just settlement.

Our Letter to OCENSA (extract)

January 2003

While we welcome the cordiality with which the meeting was conducted on 6th December, we record our deep concerns registered at the meeting on the following substantive points:

a) OCENSA does not have written corporate policies in respect of consultation with the community, environment or human rights. There is therefore no baseline against which to assess it claim of implementing ethical policies.

b) OCENSA has not studied the micro-level the impact of disruption to water supplies to the peasants' farms and continues to deny this impact.

c) OCENSA has been the beneficiary of widened corridor from 12.5 metres to 200 metres, but has not paid any additional compensation for this

d) the partiality in the process of the Ministry of Environment inspection, which was carried out with OSCENSA and without consultation with one side to the dispute. Moreover this report is not available, except perhaps as a draft. It is still unclear to whom we may address enquiries about this report.

e) as above our deep concern with a legal process where one side to a civil dispute knows of the hearing and the other side does not. Since the transfer of jurisdiction from El Bagre to Bogotá, to all practical purposes the processing of the case has disappeared from view for the peasants' lawyers. You assured us that you have full faith in the judicial system. On this experience we cannot agree. Here is a civil dispute where one side has the information as to the processing of the case, the side representing a consortium of a s state company and multinational oil corporations, and the other side which represents a vulnerable group of impoverished peasants does not have the information.

f) Above all OCENSA continues to deny moral and legal responsibility for the damage to the lands, livelihoods and lives of the peasants who insist that its pipeline has caused this damage.

Some BP Figures

Current production from the Cusiana/Cupiagua fields is some 190,000 barrels per day gross, with a further 25,000 barrels per day gross from the Recetor licence.

BP's share of Colombian oil production in 2002 was 46 thousand barrels a day, net of royalty. That is worth approximately $1 million a day.

Substantial shareholders include JP Morgan Chase which holds 29.13% of BP's ordinary share capital; the Co-operative Insurance Society Limited holds 21.15% of 1st preference shares and 32.20% of 2nd preference shares; Prudential plc holds 7.30% of 1st preference shares and 11.77% of 2nd preference shares.

BP group's profit before tax was US $11.264 billion, and US $6.922 billion after tax. The average return on shareholder's interest was 10.2% of investment.