LONDON (AFP) – BP was facing angry protesters and disgruntled shareholders on Thursday at its first annual general meeting since a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The meeting in London is taking place almost a year since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and caused millions of barrels of oil to spew into the sea.
Bob Dudley, the American who took over as chief executive in October, faces accusations that he engineered a deal to create a venture to explore for oil in the Arctic with Russian giants Rosneft in a bid to camouflage the worst disaster in BP’s history.
The Rosneft issue has been put off until next month after BP said Thursday that it and the Russian company had agreed to extend a deadline to complete a $16 billion share swap that is key to the deal.
Fishermen who claim their livelihoods have been damaged by the Gulf oil spill are set to protest at the AGM, alongside environmental campaigners.
Byron Encalade, president of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, said he would be at the AGM, to tell BP “the facts”.
He claimed people had been put out of work by the oil spill which hit the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico and not enough compensation had been paid.
Several key shareholders, including the US pension fund Calpers, have said they will vote against the annual report to be submitted at the AGM, in protest at the high levels of pay for BP executives despite the disaster.
BP’s fortunes were ravaged by the spill, widely acknowledged to be the worst environmental catastrophe in US history, which knocked billions of dollars off its value.
The group is now trying to move on from the disaster after agreeing to share responsibility with the owner of the rig, Transocean.
It has unveiled plans to sell $30 billion (21 billion euros) of assets to help pay the clean-up bill.
But for shareholders the pain endures as the share price remains 30 percent below its level before the spill.
BP’s fortunes are instrumental to the fortunes of millions of British investors because most British pension funds invest in the company.
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