Climbers have scaled BP's London HQ and are currently hoisting a large oil-soaked version of the company's bright green logo above the entrance. Chief Executive Tony Hayward is expected to arrive imminently to chair a board meeting which will focus on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Greenpeace volunteers arrived at 0530 before climbing onto a small metal balcony above the front door. They then attached a specially designed giant flag to the company's flagpole bearing the words "British Polluters" alongside the altered BP logo.
Other Greenpeace activists are greeting executives at a side entrance with a banner carrying a similar image. Staff began arriving for work as the flag was raised but are not being prevented from entering the building.
Hayward flew into London last night and is in the UK for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico a month ago. News reports suggest that he will chair a board meeting inside the building this morning to discuss the long term consequences of the spill, which is leaking thousands of barrels of oil each day. Today is also Mr. Hayward's 54th birthday.
One of the two Greenpeace climbers, 36 year old Ben Stewart from North London said:
"The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico can be traced back to decisions made in this building. Under Tony Hayward's leadership BP has taken huge risks to pump oil from ever more remote places, while slashing investment in the clean energy projects that could actually help reduce our dependence on oil and beat climate change.
"BP's bright green logo is a pathetic attempt to distract our attention from the reality of what this company is doing, both in the Gulf of Mexico but also in places like the tar sands of Canada. Tony Hayward's reckless approach will cause more disasters unless action is taken to stop him."
Aside from deep sea wells, BP is investing billions to extract oil-soaked ‘tar sands' deposits which are found beneath the boreal forests of Canada. The process accelerates global climate change due to the massive amounts of energy needed to bring the tar sands to the surface for refining. Campaigners say that the environmental impact of tar sands extraction could be just as damaging as the current spill.
A company presentation delivered by Tony Hayward in March this year shows that over the course of 2010, BP plans to invest US$19bn on its oil and gas business compared with less than $1bn on all alternative technologies combined - which includes spending on controversial biofuels, as well as wind, solar and all other clean technologies put together. (1)
For more information, images and interviews from the scene please contact the Greenpeace press office on 07500 866860 / 0207 865 8255