Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Bolshoi Petroleum is “environmental villain number one”

Ever since BP’s complex deal with Russian giant Rosneft was announced late last Friday, the list of critics to the deal has been growing.

Take today’s leader in the Financial Times that calls the deal “risky, ethically vexing” and a “difficult transaction to spin.”

I am surprised that a tabloid newspaper hasn’t spun the deal so far as “BP screws America and then jumps into bed with Russia”.

Indeed as the FT points out, correctly, “After BP’s environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year, few will rejoice at the idea of it drilling in the Arctic’s near-virgin seas”.

Few indeed.

After the tie-up BP will have a 10.8 per cent stake in the Russian company, with Rosneft taking a 5 per cent in BP. Crucially it gives BP access to exploit the remote Kara Sea.

Since last Friday a whole array of environmentalists have lined up to criticise this later part of the deal.

The kara Sea is one of the few remaining havens left for a number of endangered species, including polar bears, walruses and beluga whales.

Friends of the Earth said the move by BP cements them as the world’s “environmental villain number one”.

Mike Childs, FoE’s head of climate change, said: “BP, a number of years ago, were positioning themselves to be the greenest of the oil companies, promising to go ‘beyond petroleum’. This latest move positions them quite nicely as environmental villain number one, given the huge impact they had in the Gulf of Mexico as well.”

Greenpeace was equally damning. “The Kara Sea is pretty much virgin territory,” adds Ben Ayliffe, a climate campaigner from the organisation. “It’s bad news. BP has a pretty average record of safety recently. We don’t know if they’ve learnt anything from Deepwater Horizon.”

The criticism of the deal is also coming from the company’s own shareholders and politicians.

Alfa-Access-Renova, the consortium through which the shareholders hold their stake in BP’s Russian venture, TNK-BP, said it was examining whether the deal breaches their agreement which stipulates that BP can only pursue new opportunities in Russia via them.

Seems like a clear breach to me.

Meanwhile a whole array of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have attacked the deal, including Rep Edward Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, who called for the deal to be analysed by the Committee on Foreign Investment. “BP once stood for British Petroleum,” he said. “With this deal, it now stands for Bolshoi Petroleum.”

Ed Miliband, the British Labour party leader, added: “I’d be pretty worried about this… I think that the lesson of the Gulf oil spill should be that the task for all of us – private companies, government and so on – is not to just keep digging and digging deeper and deeper for oil. It is actually to find those alternative forms of energy that can help us move forward in a clean way.”

And if you think that BP is the “environmental villain number one” go to the Public Eye website and vote in their Awards to find the “most evil corporation of the year.”

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