BP hit by tar sands protests in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge

Saturday April 10th
BP hit by tar sands protests in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge

Oil company targeted by nationwide protests in advance of crucial AGM vote

Protesters demand BP pulls out of “the most destructive project on Earth” - the Canadian tar sands

For photos, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/no-tar-sands and http://www.no-tar-sands.org. Brief reports of the London and Oxford actions can be seen at http://www.demotix.com/news/297925/bp-party-pumps and http://www.demotix.com/news/298075/bp-tar-sands-protest-oxford.

Today, oil giant BP was struck by multiple protests over its controversial plans to extract oil from the Canadian tar sands (1). Hundreds of climate activists in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge (2) targeted the company with simultaneous demonstrations and street parties, including forecourt invasions which closed three BP petrol stations in London and Brighton (3), (4).

Activists hailed the day as a major success, stating that the protests would send a strong message to BP and its investors. Sheila Laughlin of the UK Tar Sands Network said:

“Today, we did exactly what we set out to do – we hit BP’s profits by shutting down their petrol stations, and we hit their brand by informing thousands of people about their destructive tar sands plans. Nearly everyone we spoke to was shocked and outraged by the horrific climate, ecological and human impacts of tar sands extraction. If BP want to completely alienate the UK public, they’re going about it in exactly the right way.”

Meanwhile, a shareholder resolution questioning BP’s role in the tar sands, which is due to be discussed and voted on at their AGM later this week (5), continues to attract interest from shareholders, with a number of major investment funds stating their support for the anti-tar sands resolution in the last few days (6).


Notes to Editors

1) Tar sands are a type of oily soil, which requires large amounts of energy, water, and industrial processing to extract and transform into crude oil. Tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada is already the world’s largest industrial project, requiring the removal of vast areas of ancient forest and consuming enough natural gas per day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes. The extraction process emits 3 to 5 times as much carbon dioxide as conventional oil drilling, the lakes of toxic waste it produces are so large they are visible from space, and the pollution from the project is harming the health of the Indigenous people who live in its shadow.
See http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/inventory_report/2006_report/som-sum_eng.cfm and http://www.ienearth.org/cits.html

BP was the only major oil company not to be in the tar sands, until in 2007 it purchased a stake in the 'Sunrise Project', an extraction project that could produce 200,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day. Earlier this year it announced its potential involvement in two other, similar developments, although a final decision as to whether or not to go ahead with them has yet to be made. Over the last six months, an unprecedented coalition of UK climate activists, NGOs and Indigenous Canadian activists has come together to stop BP’s plans.

2) The April 10th day of action was supported by the UK Tar Sands Network ( http://www.no-tar-sands.org), Rising Tide UK ( http://risingtide.org.uk), the Camp for Climate Action ( http://www.climatecamp.org.uk) and the Indigenous Environmental Network ( http://www.ienearth.org)

3) A brief summary of each of the actions:

London: Around 150 people invaded BP’s Shepherd’s Bush petrol station at around 2pm today. They hung banners off the roof, climbed on the pumps and held a ceilidh in the forecourt. The station remained closed for the rest of the afternoon. There was a heavy police presence, but no arrests.

Oxford: About 25 people from the Thames Valley Climate Action group reconstructed the Canadian tar sands on Oxford’s central shopping parade, including a pipeline and “toxic” tailings pond complete with toy ducks. They used a cycle-powered sound system to entertain and inform thousands of shoppers with music and speeches, while activists dressed as Canada and BP got friendly with each other by the pipeline. Around 5,000 anti-BP leaflets were distributed, and video messages were collected from the public to send to BP’s AGM.

Brighton: Activists successfully invaded and shut down two separate BP petrol stations. Photos can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wdmbrightonandhove

Cambridge: Local activists from the Cambridge Tar Sands Network led an unconventional tour group through the city today. They took in the sights of RBS Branches, a Superdrug Location, and University Facilities funded by BP, all of which have links to the Canadian Tar Sands. The event drew the attention of many members of the public, who took photos, requested more information, or even joined the tour. The event was hailed as a successful public expose of Cambridge’s dark tar-sand-stained underbelly.

4) This day of action fell near the end of a full two weeks of action against BP and the tar sands, dubbed the “BP Fortnight of Shame”. Other actions since April 1st have included:

• 22,000 “rebranded” BP logos were delivered to BP HQ – video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNLzN3zld7o
• A BP petrol station was blockaded in Plymouth, with protesters chaining themselves to petrol pumps. The station was closed for an hour and a half, and there were two arrests: http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/Greens-protest-closes-petrol-statio...
• A demonstration by Youth Against Climate Change in St. Albans, targeting RBS, who are one of BP’s key funders in the tar sands: http://www.stalbansreview.co.uk/news/6646160.St_Albans_demo_targets__RBS/
• RBS cash machines were rendered temporarily out of order by Brighton Against Tar Sands (BATS): http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/04/448446.html
• A walking tree from Alberta, Canada, turned up at BP HQ (and other key London locations) to complain about tar sands deforestation – video here: http://vimeo.com/10630598
• “Free money” stained with oil was given out at a Natwest (owned by RBS) branch in Norwich: http://felixinnorwich.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/fossil-fools-day-in-norwi...

5) BP’s Annual General Meeting will take place at 11.30am on April 15th 2010 at the Excel Centre, London. Campaigners will be speaking to shareholders outside the meeting, and challenging BP inside the meeting. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/04/bp-investors-row-tar-sands

6) See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/epic/bpdot/7568809/US-an... and http://nachhaltiger.de/index.php/2010/04/10/apg-may-vote-against-bp-shel...

UK Tar Sands Network