CALGARY -- Challenging BP Amoco's reputation as a responsible oil company, activists today directly confronted Sir John Browne over his company's investments in Chinese occupied Tibet. Browne, the Group Chief Executive of BP Amoco was delivering the keynote address at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary, Alberta.
Two activists, John Hocevar, 32, of New York, and Freya Putt, 21, of Victoria, stood up during Browne's speech and unfurled a banner which read "BP Amoco and PetroChina: Get out of Tibet". Hocevar and Putt called on Browne to oversee the divestment of BP Amoco's $580 million stake in PetroChina before being forcibly removed from the venue. Outside the Congress, dozens of Tibetans and their supporters rallied to stop the Tibet pipeline.
BP Amoco, along with Enron and Agip, is involved in the construction of the Sebei-Lanzhou gas pipeline through Tibet. The 953 km pipeline represents a significant escalation of China's ongoing strategy of developing Tibet into a resource extraction colony, and would remove petroleum from Tibet without any benefit for Tibetans.
Begun in March, and scheduled for completion in October 2001, this project will severely impact the Tibetan people and environment. Resettlement of large numbers of Chinese workers into traditionally nomadic areas of northeastern Tibet will serve to bolster China's decades long practice of moving Chinese settlers into Tibet to strengthen its grip on the occupied country. This policy of population transfer has already reduced Tibetans to a minority in much of their own nation, undermined traditional nomadic ways of life, and increased ethnic tensions in the area.
"BP's investment in PetroChina makes them complicit in the illegal occupation of my country," said Thupten Tsering, Grassroots Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet. "Tibetans and supporters world wide have pledged to fight corporations like BP Amoco who plan to help China exploit Tibet's natural heritage and undermine my people's rights."
BP is currently the largest foreign investor in PetroChina, with their $580 million stake covering the estimated $530 million needed to construct the Tibet pipeline. An international coalition of Tibetan freedom groups, along with other human rights and environmental organizations, have embarked on a campaign to stop BP Amoco's involvement in Tibet. While BP Amoco did elect not to participate in the pipeline joint venture, their money still fuels the project. Browne leaves within the week for a trip to China.
Contact: Kirsten Johnson - 403-617-7461 - cell phone on site, Jigme Lhadon - 212-594-5898, or Sophia Conroy- 212-481-3569