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Tibet Campaign Targets BP Shareholder Meeting

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/01/19; Juanuary 19, 2001.]

LONDON, Thursday January 18, 2001 (Reuters) - Tibetan campaigners said on Thursday they planned to file a resolution at BP Amoco's annual shareholders' meeting calling on the oil giant to withdraw from its investment in Petrochina (NYSE:PTR - news).

Alison Reynolds, a director of London-based Free Tibet Campaign which favours Tibetan independence from China, said she already had the support of ethical investment group Trillium Asset Management.

Trillium is the fund which embarrassed the British oil group at last year's annual shareholders' meeting, allowing environmental pressure group Greenpeace enough shareholder power to get a resolution against Arctic drilling onto shareholders' ballot papers and securing seven percent of votes in favour.

BP has a two-percent stake in PetroChina, and along with the other two global giants, Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM - news) and Royal Dutch/Shell (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: SHEL.L), it holds a similar-sized stake in another Chinese oil company Sinopec (NYSE:SNP - news).

PetroChina is building the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline.

Last month, Free Tibet and a coalition of other Tibetan, human rights and environmental groups urged BP to use its influence to halt construction of the pipe through Qinghai province.

The group said in a letter to Chief Executive John Browne last year that if no results were achieved by January 15, it would start a public campaign urging BP to withdraw its investment in PetroChina.

China occupied Tibet in 1949 and Beijing is now throwing open what it calls its "Western treasure house" of natural resources to try to absorb the remote Himalayan region into the mainstream Chinese economy.

The 950-km (590-mile) gas pipeline from Sebei in Qinghai to Lanzhou in neighbouring Gansu province passes through land inhabited by ethnic Tibetans.

China says the 2.5 billion yuan ($302 million) project will create jobs, improve infrastructure and help redistribute wealth.

But the coalition argues it would lure more Chinese settlers, upset the delicate ecosystem and deplete natural resources with little benefit for locals.

BP Amoco paid $578 million for the stake in PetroChina, which listed in New York and Hong Kong in April last year, but says it did not invest directly in the pipeline.

Reynolds said activists were still collecting the 100 shareholders with an average holding of 100 pounds ($147) each required to put a resolution to the April AGM but were confident that it would meet BP's deadline for filing the resolution on January 31.

The resolution raises questions over PetroChina's activities in East Turkestan as well as in Tibet, and Sinopec's operations in Sudan.

It asks: "That the Board of Directors of the Company withdraw from the investment in PetroChina on the grounds that a shareholding in PetroChina and the potential human rights and environmental concerns associated with PetroChina is in contradiction with BP-Amoco's policy commitments on human rights and the environment, and is therefore not in the best long-term financial interests of BP-Amoco."

BP said it would not comment on resolutions it had not yet received.

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