BP Amoco takes green flak from shareholders

Resolution calling on European oil giant to leave Arctic defeated, but opposition hailed as "historic"

A resolution calling on BP Amoco to stop exploring for oil in the Arctic Sea was defeated at the company's annual general meeting in London today. But the resolution secured over 13% of the vote - far higher than expected - and the level of support is being hailed as a victory by environmental campaigners.

This is the "highest vote for an environmental resolution anywhere in the world", according to Matthew Spencer of Greenpeace, one of the groups which filed the resolution. "BP Amoco cannot ignore this message: it comes from its own investors as well as environmentalists," he said. Greenpeace is calling on the company to cease its Northstar operations in the Arctic and channel the funds it would have spent there into its solar power subsidiary, BP Solarex.

A spokesperson for BP Amoco noted that over 85% of the shareholders voted against the resolution. Group chairman Peter Sutherland warned the meeting that if BP Amoco was prevented from exploiting such opportunities, other "less scrupulous" companies might step in and the environment would suffer. He also said that BP Amoco's solar business was a long-term "strategic" investment supported by existing activities. "It is projects like Northstar which enable us to develop our non-conventional business," he added.

The vote may come as a warning to companies that environmental concerns are climbing up the shareholder agenda, observers say. "US-styled shareholder activism has arrived in Europe. The board could take heed of this warning and alter its investment strategy to take up new economic opportunities and implement its environmental rhetoric on climate change," said Simon Billenness of US-based ethical investment company Trillium Asset Management, which co-filed the resolution.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace, tel: +44 20 7865 8100;

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