After 100 years, is BP going senile?

Posted by jossc — 5 May 2009 at 11:35am - Comments

Getting to be 100 years old is a proud milestone, but it usually comes with some complications - which can include a loss of critical faculties. As BP directors and shareholders meet to celebrate the company's centenary in London this evening, they'd be well advised to seriously question whether BP's massive investment in Canadian tar sands (pictured here) is evidence of senility setting in.

Consider the facts. In 1909 BP had a straightforward strategy: "Drill a hole in the Iranian desert. Get rich." In 2009 they've opted to invest decisively in one of the most destructive fuel sources possible - tar sands - whilst axing staff in their renewables sector. BP advertThe process of extracting oil from the bitumen layers underlying Alberta's boreal forest is destroying over 200,000 hectares of trees and belching out thousands of tonnes of climate wrecking gases every day. And, because of the complicated extraction methods, tar sands projects can lose companies such as BP millions of pounds. Last week, Shell revealed that its involvement in tar sands had lost the company £28million in just three months. Madness? It certainly looks that way.

So this isn't just bad for the planet. It's also awful news for BP shareholders as the tar sands projects look set to hit them hard. But you'd never guess from BP's own advertising, which still deceptively insists that they are heading 'beyond petroleum'.

Which is why we've placed an advert in tomorrow's Guardian to set the record straight. It details the complicated, destructive, money-losing process that is required to extract oil from tar sands and asks 'At 100 years, is BP going senile'?

You can judge for yourself by taking a few minutes to check out Greenpeace Canada's new Petropolis website, which features a new video detailing stunning arial views of the destruction plus a fascinating audio slideshow, with our photographer describing the constant harassment he got from local security services simply for trying to legally document what's been going on.

Just for the record, tar sands are a mixture of sand, clay and a heavy crude oil called bitumen that is either mined in open pits or extracted from underground by injecting superheated water. BP uses the latter method, which releases up to five times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production. At full capacity, their tar sands project will emit the equivalent of over 24,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a day.

So, 'beyond petroleum?' - hardly. Last year we presented BP with our first annual "Emerald Paintbrush" award for services to misleading advertising and greenwash - looks like they're getting in an early bid to win this year's competition as well.

Take Action

Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stop Canada's development of the tar sands. Dirty oil production in the tar sands is accelerating climate change and putting the world's future at risk.

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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