Question 1 – The Pipelines
In the Annual Report John Browne states that "We have to show too that our activities are conducted in line with high ethical standards, and that we are contributing to human progress in all the communities in which we work". The report states unequivocally that "Unethical behaviour is not tolerated." The company claims "We will pursue our business with integrity, respecting the different cultures and the dignity and rights of individuals in all the countries where we operate."
Why then is BP in Colombia behaving so unethically? Why is it that BP Colombia tricked peasants living along the ODC and OCENSA pipelines into receiving derisory compensation and continues to refuse to pay them reasonable damages for the pipelines’ destruction of water supplies that has driven the peasants off their lands and into absolute poverty? How much longer is this unethical behaviour going to be tolerated?
In October last year the company appointed a director of business ethics. Will this director intervene directly to ensure progress in settling the claim of the peasant communities from Zaragoza and Segovia?
Question 2 – BP’s Operation in Cusiana
According to Peter Sutherland and John Browne’s introduction to the Annual Report "good business depends on making a positive impact on the lives of the people we touch by striving to operate in a way that does no harm to the environment" and elsewhere the company states "BP has a simply stated goal – to do no damage to the environment." BP Colombia has fallen woefully short of this goal.
Why is it that in BP’s operations in Cusiana in Colombia gas is being burned off causing noise and light pollution as well as chemical contamination, rather than the gas being recycled in a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach? And why is BP diverting water from the Cusiana river and underground reservoirs, and injecting it into the wells to pump out oil?
If BP were serious about the goal of no damage to the environment it would immediately change these practices. Or are we to believe that this goal is just for publicity and the gullible while the people in Colombia are expected to continue to suffer behind a smokescreen of misinformation and the sinister intimidation to their lives that the company’s critics face?
Question 3 – Carlos Vargas Suarez
In light of the corporate policy of transparency can you explain why BP refused to co-operate with a crucial investigation by the respected Human Rights Unit of Colombia’s Attorney General into the assassination on 2nd December 1998 of Carlos Vargas Suarez, the environmental regulator for the Orinoco basin, when they were asked for the names of your security personnel who left the country within days of his murder?
And is it a coincidence that Carlos Vargas Suarez was about to blow the whistle on corruption in the awarding of environmental licenses to oil companies like yourselves?