Protestors were ejected from BP’s annual general meeting in London today after attempting to storm the stage.
The group, dressed in matching T-shirts, were carried out of the Excel Centre in east London by security guards as BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg was involved in a heated discussion over oil extraction in Canadian tar-sands.
The group approached the stage in the auditorium, where the entire BP board was sitting, but were prevented from climbing on to the platform.
Svanberg paused the meeting, attended by thousands of shareholders, while the activists were removed and added that there had been a “little excitement”.
The protesters were ejected after a group of fishermen and women hit by the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster were denied entry to the AGM. The group, who say their livelihoods were destroyed by the oil spill which followed the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, were due to attend the meeting.
But a BP spokesman said the group, which included Diane Wilson who protested during then-chief executive Tony Hayward's evidence to a US Congressional committee hearing, were judged to be a threat to other shareholders.
Louisiana shrimp fisherwoman Tracy Kuhns, speaking outside the meeting, said she was angry, frustrated and embarrassed at being refused entry to the AGM by security officials.
“It was humiliating, like being treated like a criminal. We aren’t here to cause trouble. We just wanted to have our voices heard. The shareholders need to hear it.
“We understand a business is supposed to make money, but you have to pay your costs before you get your profits.”
BP had damaged her community, its businesses, the environment and people’s health, including through chemicals they had sprayed to disperse the oil, and was not paying for what it had done, she said. Her shrimp boat has not been out fishing since the oil disaster last April.
Meanwhile, BP has secured more time to salvage its £10 billion share-swap and exploration deal with Russian-government owned Rosneft. The embattled supermajor extended today’s deadline to complete the agreement following last-minute negotiations with Rosneft.
The deal hit a wall when major shareholders in BP’s existing Russian partner, TNK-BP, raised concerns over the agreement and an independent tribunal in Stockholm imposed an injunction on the tie-up going ahead until it had gathered further evidence.
BP now has until May 16 to secure the deal, in one form or another, by which time the Swedish arbitrators should have made their final ruling.