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Invest in Iraq and you repeat past mistakes, investors tell BP board

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Terry Macalister, The Guardian, Friday April 18 2008

Investors yesterday accused BP of repeating past mistakes by investing in Iraq as the board came under fire from shareholders at the annual meeting in London.

Protest groups used their stakes to attack BP for developing tar sands in Canada and there was criticism of high executive pay.

The board said BP was moving back on track after a year of falling profits, management reshuffles and an underperforming share price.

Peter Sutherland, the chairman entering his last 12 months in office, admitted performance in 2007 had not been good but rebuilding by new chief executive Tony Hayward meant BP was now “much better placed and we are seeing forward momentum”. Hayward accepted BP needed to “raise its game” further but was optimistic that prioritising safety, people and performance was paying dividends.

In a world moving towards clean energy, BP was “part of the solution not part of the problem”. But Greg Muttit, from the Platform human rights group, said the oil giant risked repeating mistakes by tying up agreements in Iraq.

Sutherland said BP had no firm agreements and was one of 34 companies shortlisted by the Baghdad government for possible work there. “We will not exploit weakness for short-term gain,” he said, adding he accepted “Iraq’s oil belongs to the Iraqi people.”

A group of US investors, including Northstar Asset Management and the Sierra Fund, expressed “deep disappointment” that BP was investing in carbon-intensive tar sands in Canada.Sutherland insisted the company was acting

This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday April 18 2008 on p29 of the Financial section. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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