BP locks out activist shareholders

BP yesterday barred a number of shareholders from entering its annual meeting, citing security concerns.

They included three environmental activists who flew in from Georgia and Azerbaijan for the event. BP is building a massive oil pipeline through that region. Seven other share-owning protesters were turned away.

There was a massive security operation at the Royal Festival Hall in London, with the entire building sealed off from the public. About 50 policeman and even more private guards patrolled outside and inside.

The oil and gas giant said it had legitimate security concerns and that being a shareholder did not in itself guarantee entry. A spokesman said a protester last year threw a "noxious substance" in the hall.

However, the three activists from the Caucuses said that they were "shocked" at their treatment. Nina Dadalauri, from the Green Alternative organisation in Georgia, which has campaigned against the pipeline, said: "They [BP] seem to be very much afraid ... This is very bad for their reputation."

She and other activists said they were happy to be searched before entering the hall. A special resolution put forward by green campaigners got 6 per cent of the votes at the AGM.

Inside the hall, BP's chairman, Peter Sutherland, said the company was happy with the stated size of its reserves. Its rival Shell has been forced into a huge downgrade of reserves.

Mr Sutherland said: "On the basis of a review, we are satisfied that there are appropriate processes in place within the group to estimate the proved reserves that we report to you, our shareholders."

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